Tips for keeping horses cool in summer
Horse welfare is a topic on the agenda at the RSPCA in the midst of gearing up to host the 2023 Animal Welfare Seminar, ‘Quit riding around: improving the welfare of horses within Australia.’ The Seminar will gather a range of stakeholders to discuss information, current research, and the latest research to ensure that everyone’s horse has a great standard of living regardless of their connections or interactions with humans.
With the Seminar due to begin and temperatures rising across the nation, It’s also a good time to look at the best strategies to safeguard the horses you care for from exhaustion as well as stress caused by heat. The heat and humidity can have a negative impact on any animal. Still, it is particularly detrimental to horses because their muscle mass is large, and the comparatively tiny body surface area makes it challenging for them to cool down.
The good news is that there are many ways to keep your horse secure, happy, and cool throughout these hot seasons. Find out some helpful suggestions to prepare and guide you through this scorching summer.
Lots of water and easy access to shade
It is essential to provide your horses with access to clean, safe drinking water (it’s always best that you have more than you need, so make sure that an ample supply is always available). Did you know that horses drink 30-50 liters of water per day? Horses are known to consume higher quantities during warmer weather as they sweat more and draw on the water reserves within their bodies.
It’s also crucial to ensure that horses get shading (trees or shelter) since they’ll get stressed and overheated when they don’t have access to shade. This is particularly important for horses with white skin around regions like nostrils, and consequently often get sunburned.
If you have the funds, then you can consider constructing one huge shelter or shade (rather than a smaller one for every paddock) that all horses could access regularly. It could be located in an area connected via laneways to numerous paddocks. This means the shelter/shade can be utilized throughout the year. Paddocks can be rested and rotated, giving horses the opportunity to display social behaviors.
Stables can be too hot to make use of shade during summer (due to the closed sides) and must have an outside shaded yard so that horses can be able to go outdoors.
What is the deal with rugs in the summer?
Horses are often rubbed in the summer to stop their coats from fading when the sun is shining, but this isn’t recommended as it could keep heat in and decrease the ability of horses to cool themselves.
If temperatures are above 25 degrees Celsius, the horses can be at risk of being stressed by heat. Rugs on horses during the summer months can pose a welfare problem, and it’s crucial to be aware that rugs do not help keep horses cool. Horses naturally have an elegant coat that reflects the sun’s rays and will look for shade when they’re in heat as a natural reaction. Rugs block any cool wind from cooling the body. Horses are also one of the few species that depend on sweating for cooling, and mats block the process (by stopping air from flowing across the body and evaporating the sweat in order to regulate the temperature).
Ride during cooler times of the day.
During the most humid time of the day during the summer months (often between midday between noon and 3 pm), it’s recommended to refrain from riding or exercising your horse to minimize the heat and physical exhaustion. If you’re riding in hot temperatures, it’s recommended to stay in shaded areas, make rides shorter, and take frequent breaks for water. Horses mustn’t get exercise during extremely hot days since they’re prone to excessive loss of water through sweat and extreme heat.
After a ride, make sure that you cool your horse by washing them down with cool water and offering them plenty of water. The heat of the day will cause horses to sweat heavily; therefore, in addition to water, providing a salt block to replenish electrolytes that have been lost can aid in their recovery.
With these suggestions, you’re surely in the right direction to keep your horse healthy, safe, and cool.